Category Archives: Food and Travel

Things to do in Glasgow

Glasgow has reinvented itself as one of the coolest destinations in Britain. In the early 1900s, a fifth of the world’s ships were built in the ‘Second City of the Empire’. Since its rebirth as a cultural powerhouse in the 1980s, Scotland’s largest city has blossomed into a place that’s every bit as enthralling as its age-old rival, Edinburgh.

 

Think grand Victorian architecture, world-class art and music scenes, fantastic museums, parks, restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping and, above all, the warmest of welcomes. Not for nothing is Glasgow known as the friendly city. Which is just as well because it rains – a lot. Here are ten of the best things to do in town.

 

Cruise the Clyde

One of the best ways to experience Glasgow’s history is from its world-famous river. Cruises down the Clyde sail past landmarks including the Riverside Museum, the working shipyards of Govan, and venues from 2014’s Commonwealth Games. If you’ve got more time, the Doon the Watter cruise heads 22 miles downriver to the historic, castle-topped Dumbarton Rock and back.

 

Go to a gig

In any given week in this UNESCO City of Music, an average of 130 music events take place, from country to classical, electronica to mainstream pop. It’s the atmosphere that makes a Glasgow gig legendary, whether catching indie royalty at East End institution the Barrowland Ballroom or a random tiny (and deafening) gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, hailed as ‘quite possibly the finest small venue in the world’ by the NME. Basically if you haven’t been to a gig in Glasgow… you haven’t been to Glasgow.

 

Check out the contemporary art scene

Glasgow is home to a thriving community of artists and has a reputation for producing some of the most exciting contemporary art in Europe. Exploring some of the smaller and grungier galleries makes for an unbeatable day out. Check out the established Modern Institute, Transmission, and Trongate 103 in the Merchant City, while in north Glasgow the Glue Factory is a newer industrial venue producing work across art, design, architecture, and music. The West End is home to converted warehouse SW3G, renowned for its multi-disciplinary arts programme and hosting more than 120 artists and designers.

Best wildlife experiences

Spanning six time zones, three oceans and the world’s longest coastline (at 202,080km), Canada is one heck of a big country, and it’s filled to the brim with some of the most epic wildlife adventures you’re ever likely to experience. Nature gives you a giant bear hug the minute you go beyond the cities and into the land of the boreal forests, alpine hideaways or to its remote coast.

Be it singing with belugas or seeking out spirit bears, there’s never been a better time to tune into Canada’s wilderness than as the country celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World’ is Churchill’s nickname and with good reason. Nowhere on Earth are the odds of glimpsing one of nature’s mightiest beasts higher, with sightings pretty much guaranteed. Mellower in summer, these cuddly-looking predators can be spotted chilling on the tundra during safari tours run by a raft of local operators. But the colder days of October and November are really prime time, as this is when the polar bears traipse back from their summer habitat to Hudson Bay as the pack ice begins to form. When it freezes over, it becomes their winter seal-hunting ground. Operating out of their remote, coastal eco lodge, Churchill Wild gets ever closer to the bears on walking tours that will have you burning up the pixels in your digital camera

 

Swimming the salmon run

Where: Campbell River, Vancouver Island

When: late July to October

It’s the summer rush hour on the Campbell River on Vancouver Island, and the water is bumper to bumper with pink, coho, chinook and sockeye salmon, as thousands dash upstream to their spawning ground. Swimming with them is the ultimate thrill. Kitted out in a mask, neoprene suit and flippers, simply let yourself trust the current of this fast-flowing, bitterly cold river to carry you along, eyeballing some of the world’s biggest salmon as they flash past like silver darts. If you’d rather go with a group than go it alone, Destiny River runs salmon snorkeling adventures.

Top five day trips

Hua Hin’s strategic position on Thailand’s upper gulf coast makes it the ideal base for excursions into the outlying countryside. Awaiting you are national parks honeycombed with caves and teeming with wildlife, vineyards offering a tempting wine-filled day out, little-visited beaches and pagoda-packed provincial towns. All these places make for a straightforward day trip, so what are you waiting for?

 

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Hugging the coastline 40km south of Hua Hin, Khao Sam Roi Yot is visited by Thais in their droves. What draws them here is Tham Praya Nakhon, a spectacular, light-filled cave that houses a meeting hall built for King Rama V in 1890. Once you’ve marvelled at this cave there are many other less-visited caverns to explore, glistening with stalactites and stalagmites, such as Tham Kaew and Tham Sai.

The park is a paradise for bird-watchers too – it sits at the intersection of the East Asian and Australian migration routes and is home to 300 different bird species – and you’ll also find Thailand’s largest freshwater marsh here, as well as sandy beaches accessed by boat.

 

Getting there

A taxi from Hua Hin will cost 1500B for the day. Alternatively, sign up for a tour with Hua Hin Adventure Tour.

 

Kaeng Krachan National Park

Thailand’s largest national park, Kaeng Krachan is nestled surprisingly close to civilisation, its southern edge a mere 35km from Hua Hin, but sees relatively few visitors, especially during the week. In the mornings, a mist hangs over the park, the peaks of the highest hills poking through it, before clearing to reveal a genuine wilderness: an extension of a huge rain forest that stretches deep into neighbouring Myanmar, complete with waterfalls, tangled jungle trails, a lake and two rivers.

All manner of wildlife roams here: elephant herds, wild deer, leopards, even the odd tiger. The animals you’re most likely to encounter are various varieties of monkeys: gibbons, macaques and langurs, as well as over 400 species of birds and countless different butterflies fluttering around. And everywhere you look, the park is bursting with extravagant fauna.

Most of the animals lurk deep in the park, making it best to visit here with both transport and a guide who knows the place.

 

Getting there

Hua Hin Adventure Tour runs regular trips, some of which offer the option of mountain-biking through the park.

 

Great island for every traveler

Long the domain of savvy sailors and fly-in millionaires, the spectacular Grenadines also offer plenty for the independent traveler – you don’t need your own boat to fully explore the magnificent archipelago. Spanning the nations of St Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada, the island chain offers a wide variety of authentic Caribbean experiences where nature is never far from the spotlight.

The most visited of the Grenadines and rightly so, beautiful Bequia is the quintessential slow-paced Caribbean island that really does have it all. Visitors can swim, dive or hike through dazzling natural beauty by day and then soak up the tropical atmosphere in the evening, sipping cocktails or tucking into a gourmet meal on a panoramic terrace.

Among its many draw cards are Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Bay, two wonderful stretches of sand backed by lush greenery, just a short hike from the capital Port Elizabeth.

As the second largest island in the chain, Bequia offers plenty of attractions for nature lovers. There are good drift dives along the leeward side of the north of the island while the remote hilly north of the island affords ample opportunity for exploration; climb some of the imposing forested peaks for fine views of St Vincent and other Grenadine islands.

Getting there: Visiting Bequia is a breeze thanks to its efficient regular fast ferry service linking it with Kingstown on St Vincent Island. SVG Air has flights from the airport on the south of the island to Kingstown, Barbados and St Lucia.

 

Mustique

Best for: Kicking it with rock stars

Mysterious Mustique, home to rock stars and the uber wealthy, is the island that fomented the image of the Grenadines as playground for the rich and famous.

The private island has some of the priciest accommodations in the region – if you have the bank balance, you can crash at the Balinese themed villa built by David Bowie. But you don’t need to be rolling in it to visit – day trips on yachts from Bequia allow visitors to get a taste of Mustique’s manicured lawns and pure tropical perfection. Visitors can lie about on pristine beaches and take a drink at iconic Basil’s Baroverlooking the main harbor – you never know who might be at the next table.

Getting there: There are no public ferry services to Mustique. Travelers can visit on a day sailing cruise from Bequia; a recommended boat is the elegant Caribbean schooner Friendship Rose. Visitors with accommodation can find regular flights from Barbados, Kingstown, Grenada and Saint Lucia with Mustique Airways.

 

Tobago Cays

Best for: Snorkeling

Uninhabited and protected as a marine park, the gorgeous Tobago Caysare the highlight of any trip to the Grenadines. Surrounded by an impressive barrier reef, they offer some of the best snorkeling in all of the Caribbean with warm, shallow waters filled with hard corals that are alive with marine life, including a thriving population of marine turtles.

The beauty of the cays is no secret among travelers, but they rarely feel overrun thanks to their remote location and lack of development. A day trip here is a thoroughly relaxing experience with bouts of snorkeling, swimming and lazing on the sands interrupted only by freshly caught seafood meals.

Getting There: There is no public transportation to the Tobago Cays, but it’s possible to charter a small boat for a day trip from any one of the populated Grenadine islands; Mayreau is the cheapest departure point, followed by Union Island. To see the cays in style, book a sailing tour from Union Island on the pirate ship Scaramouche.

September for relaxation

Looking to kick back this September? You’re in luck. The European continent beckons with turtle watching trips in Cyprus, mellow days on the Mediterranean isle of Corsica and a gut-busting break in Puglia, Italy. Meanwhile, down in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s Whitsunday Islands hold their own with the promise of crystal clear waters, serene scuba diving and pristine sand as far as the eye can see.

Beautiful landscapes, balmy days and a bounty of foodie fare await those who need a relaxing break. Here are our top chill-out spots for September.

 

Head to north Cyprus for sun, sand, turtles and time travel

Visiting the northern half of divided Cyprus is a bit like holidaying in the 1970s. It might lack a certain slickness, but there’s also a pleasing lack of development. Some of the Med’s most unspoilt sands are here, especially along the wild Karpaz Peninsula, where you’re more likely to see donkeys and turtles than other people. Indeed, turtles visit North Cyprus regularly, and from June to late September, the Society for the Protection of Turtles runs guided, eco-sensitive night tours to view them from its base at Alagadi Beach, just east of Kyrenia’s harbour.

September is a fine time to visit: the crowds have gone but weather and waters are warm. It’s ideal for hiking between ruined Crusader castles in the Kyrenia range or strolling the well-preserved ancient city of Salamis. Don’t miss Lefkoşa, the world’s only divided capital. Amble the minaret-speared streets before passing a checkpoint for a weird wander into the bullet-scarred no man’s land that separates Turkish north and Greek south.

  • Trip plan: Spend a week mixing beaches, ruins, castles and traditional villages.
  • Need to know: Fly to Ercan Airport (North Cyprus) via mainland Turkey.
  • Other months: Apr-May & Sep-Oct – warm, quieter; Jun-Aug – hottest, busy; Nov-Mar – cool, wettest.

 

Enjoy a trulli tasty break in Puglia, Italy – without the crowds

Down at heel? Yes and no. Largely agricultural Puglia, the stiletto of the Italian boot, is one of the country’s least wealthy regions; traditional Pugliese cuisine is even known as cucina povera (poor kitchen). However, it’s also a richly satisfying destination – the ‘poor’ food is delicious, and historic little towns, baroque piazzas, olive groves and sandy shores are abundant.

In September, Puglia is the place to lose the crowds, still enjoy warm sunshine and indulge in both autumnal bounty and year-round local specialities, such as Burrata cheese, orecchiette pasta, seafood, endless breads (the Salento region alone has over 100 types). Hunker down in a converted masserie (fortified farmhouse) or, better, one of Puglia’s trulli– mysterious conical limestone dwellings that pepper the peaceful countryside. Explore from your atmospheric base.

  • Trip plan: Allow one to two weeks, taking in the baroque beauty of Lecce (‘Florence of the south’), 13th-century Castel del Monte, the Grotte di Castellana cave network, the unspoilt beaches and forests of the Gargano promontory, the white city of Ostuni and the 400-odd trulli of Alberobello, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • Need to know: Bari and Brindisi both have international airports.
  • Other months: Nov-Apr – cool/cold, wettest; May & Sep-Oct – warm, quieter; Jun-Aug – hottest, busiest.